Category Archives: Collectables

Sing a Song of Sixpence

1787 Sixpence Size Comparison

1787 Sixpence Size Comparison

This sixpence is one of my favourite coins, and is pictured above with a current penny coin and a US cent for size comparison.

The sixpence was first issued in 1551 – the reign of Edward VI. He was the sickly son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, the King’s third wife. It continued in production in subsequent reigns, though it was not produced every year. One of the issues of George II was designed by John Sigismund Tanner, which is why those of you old enough to remember the 6d coin are all saying “Ah!” at the moment. Yes, that’s why it was known as a “tanner”.

Unfortunately, the Royal Mint website says that the name probably dates from the early 1800s and comes from the Romany “tawno”, meaning “small one”, which confuses things. Why the sixpence should be the small one when we had silver 4d and 3d coins at that time, is not explained, but let’s just say that I don’t consider the Royal Mint website to be 100% correct in all things.

There was a break in sixpence production between 1758 and 1787. This was partly due to a world shortage of silver, and partly due to the madness of King George, who was unable to authorise new issues. This led to the issue of unofficial token coins by local tradesmen, and the use of foreign silver coins as substitutes for the crown (five shillings) and half crown. The Bank of England also issued coins of  3 shillings and 1/6d, selecting these denominations to avoid conflict with the King’s coinage.

The design features a bust of the King wearing Roman-style armour and a wreath of laurels. He was not, as you can see, a handsome man. Looking at him brings stories of Princesses kissing frogs. The reverse has four shields representing the King’s claims to England/Scotland on one, and France, Hanover and Ireland on the others. He’d have been better off forgetting France and hanging on to America.

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In 1787 the average working wage was £15 – £20 a year – or around a shilling a day (working a six day week). A low level domestic servant could be on as little as £3 a year and a footman could earn £8 (about 6d a day) Servants were also given food, lodgings and clothing. It’s never easy comparing the cost of living, but this article is quite interesting.

So, what was happening in 1787?

February – in the newly independent America – Shay’s Rebellion fails. This was a rebellion by Massachusetts residents against government taxation policies. This seems familiar…

There would be two more rebellions a few years later – the Whiskey Rebellion and Fries’s Rebellion. Until I started writing about 1787 I had no idea American history could be so interesting.

On May 13 the Ships of the First Fleet left Portsmouth for Australia with around 700 convicts and 300 crew and guards. Or up to 1,500 people according to other accounts. It took them between 250 and 252 days to reach Botany Bay as they became a little strung out on the journey, though two days after 250 days at sea is still quite impressive.

The First Fleet is commemorated with a memorial, including a garden area with a barbecue. Because I’m trying to be a nice person, rather than a crabby old xenophobe, I will refrain from mentioning how it is typical of Australians to have a barbecue. It is not only their national symbol, alongside the kangaroo and the boomerang, but it is their way of rubbing it in that our weather is not as good as theirs.

Why Australia? Because the newly independent American colonies refused to accept our convicts. If we’d sent them to Canada, which would have been cheaper and less sunny,  I wonder if the Canadians would then have developed a love of cricket.

This mention of cricket is fortuitous as the first cricket game was played at Lord’s in this year and the MCC was founded. It was possibly cricket which killed Prince Frederick, eldest sone of George II and father of George III. He was a great patron of the game and died of an infection of the lung. In one version of the story this was caused when he was struck in the chest by a cricket ball, though others say a real tennis ball, and the dullest version of the story says it was pleurisy.

Also on a topic which has recently become topical, was the founding of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade.  The movement for the abolition of slavery had been inspired by Pennsylvania Quakers and had spread to Quakers in the UK. The society was founded in 1787 because Quakers were prohibited from holding many civil offices and they sought to include Anglicans, who were not disadvantaged by religion, to increase the political reach of the society. (The Test Acts would be repealed in 1828, shortly before the abolition of slavery in British territory).

In 1787 freed slave Ottobah Cugoano published Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species.

170px-Official_medallion_of_the_British_Anti-Slavery_Society_(1795)

Design by Wedgwood for the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade – it was on the seal of the society and appears on a number of other titems

 Six men were killed in 1787 when troops opened fire on striking weavers in Calton, just outside Glasgow. The weavers had become accustomed to wages of up to £100 a year (see the link about wages – £100 enabled one of the ‘middling sort’ to live comfortably), due to their skill and demand for their product but mechanisation was making things cheaper, and prices were falling. After a 25% wages cut they went on strike and six were killed when the troops opened fire.

It’s a story with many echoes through history, including the Luddites, the Peterloo Massacre, and the Scottish Insurrection.

That is probably enough for now. It has now run to over 1,000 words, and I have only kept it so short by cutting several hundred words. The trouble with the internet is that it makes it so easy to keep finding more and more information.

Wwood Slave

Wedgwood jasperware plaque, also made as a pendant and a brooch.

Adventures on eBay

If you look up “Sweetheart Brooches” on the internet you will find a few links to eBay and a leading dealer, then you find a link to a post of mine. That is a ridiculous state of affairs, partly because there should be more information out there, and partly because I only made a couple of short mentions of them. The highest-ranked entry of mine isn’t even the most informative post I wrote about sweetheart brooches. The internet is indeed a mysterious place.

Cambridgeshire Regiment Sweetheart

Cambridgeshire Regiment Sweetheart

The Cambridgeshire Regiment was a small unit and the badges are hard to find. This one is mounted on a wishbone, a symbol of luck, promise and potential. Nickel-plated brass.

As usual, when things have been slack, I have reverted to spending too much time on eBay. Whilst it is a pleasurable activity it can also be a disastrous way of spending time as I can’t resist buying things, and it soon starts to add up. Fortunately, having spent many years as a dealer in collectibles, I have a built-in aversion to paying full price, which tends to keep things within bounds. Despite this I’ve still managed to add eight items to my sweetheart collection.

Sweetheart brooches are strange things, because they weren’t even called that until the 1970s. Well, not in the UK – they may well have been called that in the USA, where there is a wide range of sweetheart items. Until that time, in the UK, a sweetheart brooch was a brooch bought for a sweetheart and they tended to feature motifs of birds, hearts or flowers. They were not military themed, as the brooches are that we now call sweethearts. These are mentioned in various news reports before the Great War, often cropping up in breach of promise reports. Those were definitely different days, when a man’s promise to marry could be enforced in court, and the gift of a brooch could be used in evidence.

Lancashire Fusiliers Sweetheart

Lancashire Fusiliers Sweetheart

The Lancashire Fusiliers badge is stamped “Sterling” on the back, showing that it is silver but offering no dating evidence. I would guess it’s late WW1.

In contemporary newspapers the brooches we now call sweethearts are known as Regimental Brooches or Badge Brooches. They are to be seen in newspaper adverts and feature in reports of weddings, when the groom gives a regimental brooch to his bride. These reports are mainly from the 1920s and 30s and I suspect they are the high-quality brooches which rarely feature in my collection.

The type of brooch known as white-faced enamel sweethearts (as featured in the header picture) are usually well made, and are made from brass and enamel. A cheap brass and enamel brooch could cost as little as  4d, the white-faced enamel type would cost you 1/6d. (That is fourpence and one and six (one shilling and sixpence) for those of you who don’t know.) Fourpence is worth 2 new pence and 1/6 is worth 7½p.

Yorkshire Light Infantry Sweetheart

Yorkshire Light Infantry Sweetheart

Nickel-plated brass again. Cheapish quality but with the military motif of crossed rifles, which you don’t often see. This is the first of its type for my collection.

At that point I had better stop and deliver a quick word on British pre-decimal currency in 1914. There were 240 pennies in a pound, 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound. We also had farthings (¼d) and halfpennies, pronounced ha’penny, (½d).

When we went decimal, with 100 pennies to the £1 a new penny (1p) was worth 2.4d. The abbreviation became p for penny rather than d for denarius (even though it was pronounced penny).

That’s about as clear as I can make it. I have condensed two thousand years of coinage into six lines, but I think I’ve covered the basics.

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WW2 Aircrew Sweetheart – silver

RAF Pilot’s Wings are quite common, but the half-wings for other aircrew are not so easy to find. The style of this one is distinctively WW2 with the brooch bar and dangler style. The “S” for Signaller brevet was issued from 1944 onwards to the aircrew who used radar and similar technology, which was all developed during the war.

 

To put this in context, an infantry private in the British Army was paid a shilling a day (1/- or 5p in decimal terms). He was also fed, and got meat every day, which was better food than most of them got at home.

The header picture is a white-faced enamel sweetheart of the Scots Guards. It cost a day and a half’s wages and would have been bought by a new recruit for his mother, girlfriend or sister as he embarked on a great adventure. There are eight brooches pictured here. On average, one man in seven was killed, which means that it’s likely one of the men who bought these brooches didn’t make it back home.

Sweetheart Brooch - 10th Royal Hussars

This is a sweetheart brooch of the 10th (The Prince of Wales’s Own) Royal Hussars, consisting of a regimental badge on a cavalry sword. It is a nice brooch to obtain because the ones with swords are difficult to find, as are brooches to cavalry regiments. In 1914 there were 733,514 men in the British Army, with less than 16,000 being cavalrymen, so you can see why the cavalry brooches are difficult to find.

There is a fault with the brooch, which is probably why it was reasonably priced (I hesitate to say too much about prices because Julia reads this blog). The hallmarks on the reverse are, unfortunately incomplete.

You can tell that the maker is MB in two circles which is Marshall Brothers, that the item was marked in Birmingham (Anchor) and is sterling silver (Lion), but the final element, the date letter, is under the hinge. This is irritating, but not unknown, and it’s a nice addition to the collection, even without a date letter. It’s likely to be around 1912-16, based on the dates of similar items.

Hallmarks

Finally, we have a sweetheart brooch of the Welsh Regiment, hallmarked Birmingham 1898 and again made by Marshall Brothers. The hollow silver horseshoe was a common design at the turn of the century and persisted until the early years of WW1. This is a nice early example.The regiment was known as the Welsh Regiment from 1881 – 1920 and the Welch Regiment after 1920.

Welsh Regiment Sweetheart

Welsh Regiment Sweetheart

Hallmarks - Birmingham 1898

Hallmarks – Birmingham 1898

This example has the regimental motto on it – Gwell angau na Chywilydd (Better Death than Dishonour) – rather than a scroll with “The Welsh” on it as brooches sometimes deviate from the official badge pattern. There’s some minor damage to it, but what do you expect from a brooch that has survived for 122 years?

Along with the personal link, that this was originally a gift with  a great deal of meaning to it, the wear is all part of the charm.

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Silver Brooch HMS Celerol

 

Hallmarks - Birmingham 1915

Hallmarks – Birmingham 1915 Frank H Mannox

RFA_Celerol_Dazzle_painted

 

The final brooch says “Well Done HMS Celerol”. I’m not sure what they did well, and can’t find any record of it. Celerol was a Tanker/Oiler, a class of ship used to escort convoys, import oil and refuel other ships. Launched in Sunderland in 1917, Celerol stayed in service until 1958. She was a hard-working ship, serving in two World Wars and the Russian Intervention, but she seems to have avoided both fame and disaster. Although several of her sister ships were sunk by enemy action Celerol survived to meet her end in the breaker’s yard at Bo’ness.

 

Vexed! And a Space-Filler Post

The planned post for the day was Scone Chronicles 33, and it actually had scones in it. I had done about 75% of it before I broke to make tea (corned beef hash with red cabbage, in case future researchers wonder what it was). When I looked for my camera to load the pictures after eating, I found that I must have left it at work again. I am quite annoyed with myself.

I am therefore going to write a blog around the recent photos that I have on the other camera. First I will have to check what they are, as I can’t remember what they are.

It’s not looking promising.

There are pictures of the Peace and Tribute medals which I’m going to use for my talk at the Numismatic Society, which is, as yet, amorphous and coming up in four weeks.

There are banknotes from the shop, some modern collectible coins and some “evasions”. Evasions are interesting to students of coins, Georgian history and crime. And Americans. A lot of them were used, and even made, in America until the emerging state got its coinage sorted out. I say “interesting”. If brass, rubbing, train spotting and collecting matchbox labels are interesting…well, you get the picture.

In the eighteenth century there was a shortage of small change for everyday transactions. The gap was filled by tradesmen who issued their own tokens, forgers and makers of evasions, which fill a gap between the two. This is one of ours on eBay. They were made to look worn so they blended in better, so this is actually quite a good example.

An evasion is a coin made to look like a coin, but with some very unsubtle differences – it may have King Alfred or another figure on it, it may be mispelled and it may bear a date on which no coins were minted. It will, however, have a head on the front, looking vaguely king-like, and it will have Britannia or a harp on the back. In other words, it is meant to deceive, but be an obvious fake when examined. And, as an obvious fake, it isn’t legally a forgery.

When you consider that the punishment for forgery was hanging for men, and burning at the stake for women, you cans see that this was an important distinction.

The last woman to be burned at the stake in Britain, was Catherine Murphy, executed in 1789 for coining. Her husband was hanged for coining that same morning. By that time the burning was mainly symbolic as the victims were usually hanged or strangled before the fire was lit. This must have been of small comfort.

Despite popular culture shouting “Burn her, she’s a witch!” the English never burned witches. We hanged them. The last witch burned in Scotland was in 1727. I’m sure that whether they died by hanging or burning, witches must have felt hard done by, seeing as witchcraft didn’t really exist.

The last woman imprisoned for witchcraft in the UK was Helen Duncan, who claimed to have had contact with dead sailors and to know that HMS Barham had been sunk before it was officially announced. She was jailed in 1944 under the provisions of the Witchcraft Act of 1735. This, to be fair, wasn’t a case about witchcraft but about wartime censorship and a fraudulent medium claiming to be in touch with dead servicemen.

They may look like worn out copper discs, but coins can be quite interesting.

More from Sibsey

I wanted a look at the church and war memorial at Sibsey because I have a medallion awarded to a Sibsey man for his part in the Great War – normally called a tribute medal. It’s just over an inch high and I always thought it was a watch fob, but I’ve recently seen one pictured and it should have a bar and pin, the bar bearing the words “Sibsey Boys Fund Great War Souvenir”. Research doesn’t always turnn up the things you want. Corporal Good seems to have survived the war, as he doesn’t appear on the war memorial.

According to the Boston Guardian 22 January 1916, Corporal S. Good of the RAMC had just spent a week on leave with his parents, Mr and Mrs F Good  of Sibsey. I used this information to check the census – no sign of him in 1911, but he was listed in 1891 – Samuel Good.

I haven’t been able to pick him up on the military records, which is annoying, but I did pick him up on the 1939 Roll, the one that was used for ID Cards and rationing. As the 1931 Census results were destroyed in the Blitz and the 1941 Census was postponed, the 1939 list is quite important.

In 1939 he was the landlord of the Britannia Inn, Church St, Boston. It is now “Boston’s premier fun bar”. Those words, to be honest, appear to be like a glimpse into hell.

Searching newspapers on-line for the pub name I found that his wife had died in 1942, that they had been married 15 years and that they had one daughter, who went to Boston High School. He was an ex-serviceman, holder of the Mons Star and two of his brothers had died as a result of being gassed in the previous war.

I have found that he set fire to his curtains when he used petrol in an attempt to light his fire and that he was summonsed for two blackout offences during the war, which is ironic when you consider that he was an Air Raid Warden.

There’s still a lot more to find, but I’ve managed to rough out a good part of his life, which will be appearing as part of my talk at the Numismatic Society. There is, however, quite a lot more to do.

 

The Second of at Least Two Blog Posts

By the time I got through to the other room Julia had read the blog post and put a bar of Kit-Kat next to the chair. It was the most delicious thing I’ve eaten all week.

If I mention I’m feeling thirsty I wonder if she will make a cup of tea? Or is that just being unrealistically optimistic?

The header picture is a banknote from the wartime occupation of the Channel Islands. Well, that’s the intention. At the moment I can’t access my photos – just one more glitch in a long list of annoying intermittent faults with my site. I’m hoping I’ll be able to access them before midnight or I’ll have to post without photos. (As you can see, it did start working again after I closed down and restarted – very annoying!)

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Jersey £1 note – German wartime issue

I’m rediscovering an interest in banknotes, though it’s only in certain ones. They need to be interesting and they it’s an advantage if they have a story. To a collector the Japanese note pictured below (if the system starts to work again) is ruined because somebody has written on it. But to me , the personal touch and the details, are what makes it worth collecting. Not that I’m going to start collecting them. I already collect far too much.

I’ve just been looking through some MRI banknote reference books (that’s Monetary Research Inc., rather than magnetic Resonance Imaging) and find there are currently over 220 countries issuing banknotes and over 2,000 colour pictures of notes. That is just the ones that are currently redeemable, not all the ones that have ever been produced – I’d hate to think how many that would come to.

MRI Catalogues - a treasure trove of information

MRI Catalogues – a treasure trove of information

 

 

 

 

Silver, Survival and Salvage

Here, at last, is the information on the Gibraltar £20 coin I mentioned a few days ago.

There is a tradition in Numismatic circles for collecting coins from shipwrecks, indeed we had a talk on this subject just a few weeks ago at the Numismatic Society of Nottinghamshire. Sadly, I had one of my senior moments and completely forgot about it, even though I had intended going. I’ve always been fascinated by the stories of shipwreck and treasure and it’s a collecting field that has always interested me. However, you can’t collect everything.

There has also been a fascination for collecting relics of ships. It is still possible, if you go round antique centres, to pick up small barrels and oddments like paper knives made from the deck timber of ships like the Warspite, Iron Duke and Ajax. Copper from Nelson’s Victory has also been used to make souvenirs, such as this copper fob from the British and Foreign which we currently have for sale on eBay.

Despite the photos, it’s only about an inch across.

 

More recently, I bought some key rings made from the bronze of the Queen Mary’s propellers, and also have some copper cash coins from the Admiral Gardner, which sunk on the Goodwin Sands in 1809.

This year, I have seen mementoes made from the silver recovered from the SS Gairsoppa.

The Gairsoppa, originally built as the War Roebuck, was completed in 1919 by Palmers of Jarrow, just in time to miss the Great War, and was named after the city of Gerusoppa in the state of Mysore. She had one touch of drama in her career in the Merchant Fleet, with just one touch of adventure when she ran aground  at Fulta Point on the South Eastern coast of India in 1930.

Palmers closed in 1933 after a long struggle to stay in business during the depression, and the unemployment this caused precipitated the Jarrow March.

In early 1941, whilst carrying a cargo of pig iron, tea and silver, she joined a convoy at Freetown, Sierra Leone to complete a voyage from India to the UK. Running short of fuel, she had to reduce speed, drop out of the convoy and head for Ireland to take on coal. On 16 February 1941, she was spotted by a Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft and was attacked by U-101 later that day, being sunk by a torpedo attack.

There were 82 men on board. Only one lifeboat launched successfully and out of the six men on board three died in the next two weeks. The boat capsized on the fourteenth day and the Lizard lifeboat was only able to rescue one survivor, Second Officer R. H. Ayres.

Sunk by submarine, fourteen days in an open boat, five men dying before rescue…

I can write the facts, but I can’t come up with anything that remotely does justice to the experience. While writing this post I found this item on an on-line forum – amazing to read the words of the man in question. His account doesn’t match up with the Wiki entry, but I suspect it’s more accurate.

The researcher who contacted him did a fine job, as modesty could have prevented us ever knowing the full story.

The eleven British casualties are recorded on theTower Hill Memorial, or, in two cases, on  a headstone in the cemetery at Landewednack. The seventy one Indian seamen are commemorated on the Chittagong War Memorial.

The epic nature of the story does not end there, because in 2011 an American salvage company located the wreck and, under licence from the British Government, began lifting the silver. So far they have recovered 61 tonnes, or just over half of the 110 tonnes known to be on board. At 15,000 feet deep (half a mile deeper than the RMS Titanic) this is the record for a salvage operation.

Of course, if the ship didn’t contain silver this would be considered plundering, piracy or desecration of a war grave. It’s amazing how a mountain of silver can make the moral compass swing.

In 2014 the Royal Mint struck 20,000 Quarter Ounce Britannias, using some of the silver.

The Gibraltar Mint followed up in 2016 with a specially made £20 coin, featuring a seafarer design and containing Gairsoppa silver.

The title of the coin is taken from a John Masefield  poem, For All Seafarers. It isn’t, in my opinion, one of his best, but it does make a number of telling points.

For all Seafarers

Even in peace, scant quiet is at sea;
In war, each revolution of the screw,
Each breath of air that blows the colours free.
May be the last life movement known to you.

Death, thrusting up or down, may disunite
Spirit from body, purpose from the hull,
With thunder, bringing leaving of the light,
With lightning letting nothingness annul.

No rock, no danger, bears a warning sign,
No lighthouse scatters welcome through the dark;
Above the sea, the bomb ; afloat, the mine;
Beneath, the gangs of the torpedo-shark.

Year after year, with insufficient guard,
Often with, none, you have adventured thus:
Some, reaching harbour, maimed and battle-scarred,
Some, never more, returning, lost to us.

But, if you ‘scape, tomorrow, you will steer
To peril once again, to bring us bread,
To dare again, beneath the sky off ear,
The moon-moved graveyard of your brothers dead.

You were salvation to the army lost,
Trapped, but for you, upon the Dunkirk beach;
Death barred the way to Russia, but you crosst;
To Crete and Malta, but you succoured each.

Unrecognised, you put us in your debt;
Unthanked, you enter, or escape, the grave;
Whether your land remember or forget
You saved the land, or died to try to save.

John Masefield

Banknotes, banknotes, banknotes…

We have, as I noted in the last post, been putting banknotes on eBay.

There are a lot of notes in the shops, ranging from serious notes for collectors to cheap and cheerful bulk lots.

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Austro-Hungarian Empire – early 20th entury

I work with two keen banknote collectors. I always admire enthusiasts, and respect their immense knowledge on the subject, but really can’t get enthused by talk of serial numbers, replacements and security printing. If I was going to collect notes I’d probably collect them by theme, such as notes with pictures of birds on them. I like birds.

However, I prefer burgers, and that would be a very small collecting field.

Republic of Biafra 1967-70 - a short and tragic story

Republic of Biafra 1967-70 – a short and tragic story

Some notes are spectacular, either because of the quality of design, or the history of the note or country. Others are very dull. You will probably see several of each sort in the pictures, though it has to be said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

It’s a very simple way of touring the world and it has one advantage over many other forms of collecting in that you can, when handling circulated notes, get a fairly strong whiff of foreign bazaars and sweaty hands.

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Guyana

Years ago I had a delivery of foreign notes in an antique centre and as soon as the wrapping paper came off several neighbouring dealers turned green and ran off spluttering.

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Atmospheric selection of notes from Ghana

So, for atmosphere , circulated notes are the thing to collect. But if you are looking for beauty, collect uncirculated notes.

Bhutan - nice and clean, with dragons

Bhutan – nice and clean, with dragons

A Look at the Coin Business

This is a £20 coin from Gibraltar. The £20 is an unusual denomination which some countries, including the UK, have started using for commemorative coins. You can’t spend it, because nobody will accept it, but they can charge quite a high price for it because of the face value. The silver is worth about £6 and the collectable value is not great in most cases.

It is, in short, a bit of a rip-off.

Don’t be fooled about the legal tender aspect, when you look into it the definition of legal tender is very tightly drawn. It appears that legal tender can be used to pay court costs and fines, but nothing else. Nobody else needs to accept it, even if it is legal tender.

This basically means that the Royal Mint can make coins which don’t have to be taken back. We encountered this problem recently when we tried to pay some £5 coins in at the bank. They informed us that they no longer take them. Normally we pay £5 for a UK coin and most of them go straight to the bank as nobody collects them. We can’t do that now, so we can’t pay £5. People, quite rightly, don’t like that. We now tell them to try their bank or post office to see if they are still taking them.

The same is true for £20 and £100 coins, though as far as we know, no bank or post office will take them. We actually sell £100 coins for less than face value at times. It’s a ridiculous side effect of the modern coin trade. Read this article for an insight into what goes on, but before you do, may I just add to the information they provide. If you sell a £100 coin on eBay for £130 as they say, you will pay eBay and PayPal approximately 15% of the cost in fees, so the £130 immediately falls to £115.

Buy coins because they are beautiful, historical, interesting or educational. Or buy them as a present for future generations. If you want an investment ask a bank manager about it, not a numismatist.

This is the reverse of the Gibraltar coin, which is a lovely design. It commemorates the efforts of the Merchant Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Gibraltar £20 Coin 2016

Gibraltar £20 Coin 2016

Here’s the best value £100 coin on eBay with a Buy it Now offer of £69.99. I just checked all the ones that sold over the last month. There were 12 sold. One made £140. The other eleven all made less than face value.

There is something called seigniorage, which I don’t understand completely. It’s a branch of Economics, which is also something I struggle to grasp. Basically, if it costs the US Mint five cents to produce a quarter they make twenty cents every time someone puts a quarter in their collection. If you produce collectable quarters, such as the State Quarters Series, this can add up. In fact, it adds up to $3 billion. The USA is the best at this, but the Royal Mint is making a big effort to get a piece of the action.

Tomorrow I am planning two more posts, one of which will be to tell you more about this Gibraltar £20 coin. It is very interesting.

 

 

Told by an Idiot…

Sorry about yesterday’s short post, it was cold, I was under the weather and I left myself short of time.

Today it has warmed up a bit and I have more time so I’m hoping this post will be a little longer. I’m still on a light diet but I’m hoping to be back to normal by Monday. It’s nothing serious, and, being digestive, it’s not something you want me writing about in detail.

And, as I sit in the shop hunched over my keyboard and chewing on medication, this is what I’ve been putting on eBay.

Before I get into my stride I’d like to say that if Kylie the Koala and Kenny the Kangaroo were soft toys, fridge magnets or even medallions, I’d think they were a bit of fun, and a nice touch of laid back Australian humour.

But they aren’t, they are on coins.

I’m out of step with modern coins and that these fill a niche in the modern market. I’m not going to run them down, or criticise the people who collect them because all collecting, in my view, is good for the brain, and possibly for the soul. But for £12.95, which is what one of these would cost you, you can get a lot more for your money.

You could buy a delightful 1940 wren farthing with traces of original lustre – this is the year that Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain took place. It’s historical and it’s not easy to find in  this condition, and the beauty of the design (one of my favourite British coin designs) relies on simplicity and elegance, not a big splash of colour. It will cost you £3.25.

For £3.99 you can buy a Picturegoer postcard of a screen star from the days when they really were stars.

If Edward VIII is your cup of tea (as in doomed romantic hero or Nazi-loving playboy, I make no judgement, it’s your money) we have a selection of coronation badges around £6.95. They aren’t rare because they made a lot before they knew the coronation was cancelled.

A very nice, lightly circulated 1950s £1 note could be yours for £11.50. We have a lot of banknotes in the shop because the other two both collect them and are keen members of the local banknote society. That’s the nice thing about a shop like this – you’d never go into a shop to buy bread or toothpaste and be engaged in conversation about them, or be invited to join then relevant society, would you?

Finally, if you can stretch to £19 we can provide you with a rather nice George III Halfpenny of 1806. That’s right, he was mad, he was an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire and he lost America, all that history for just £19.

As for this, you’d think that a manufacturer of hugely successful Formula 1 cars and iconic sports cars would be above this sort of thing.

I know there are worse things happening in the world, but what were Ferrari thinking off?

And who thought it was OK to put lipstick on a Koala?

And finally, a quote from Macbeth –

It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

It explains the title and leads into today’s poem. I often quote the first four lines to Julia. One day I’ll try to learn the other ten. I really ought to do it soon before senility sets in.

Whining Wednesday – Again

I had a letter from the hospital last week. In all the excitement I forgot to tell you. I now have two sorts of arthritis and two joints I’d never heard of before.

I have osteoarthritis, which I already knew without the help of a highly trained medical professional. I also have psoriatic arthritis. This adds a few symptoms (it is apparently the one that makes my fingers swell up) and is a pain to spell. This, as I think I’ve already mentioned, is particularly annoying as, due to a previous poor diagnosis, I’ve only just mastered the spelling of eczema.

There are a number of things I can do to help myself – according to the internet if I lose weight, cut down on fatty foods and sugar and eat more fish and fresh veg this will do me good.

At the moment I’m trying to think of anything that isn’t improved by following this advice. Unless you are allergic to fish and fresh veg this is general purpose dietary advice. It’s as useful as saying that if you want to live a long time you should breathe in, breathe out and remember to wake up every morning.

Incidentally, there’s a link on the internet telling you about the five foods to avoid if you have arthritis. Unfortunately it’s a film and they tell you what the foods are without showing you. This is no use to a  a man with no sound on his computer.

To add to my misery my computer has just started in that mode where it overwrites good stuff if you go back to edit. I forget what it’s called, and even worse, I don’t know how to switch it off.

We went for breakfast this morning. Julia paid. As I’m giving up my day off to act as her taxi driver while she supervises the fitting of a new sheet on the polytunnel, I think this is fair. It hasn’t improved my temper or my views on organisations that can’t organise relief staff, but at least I’m not hungry. After leaving the all I could eat breakfast before I filled myself to the earlobes I am in a good place – comfortably full with a warm glow that comes from having had value for money.

However, this doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven her.

It does mean that I had a good laugh with my food. A family arrived just as I was putting my crumpets through the toaster a second time. They immediately started getting in the way, though I was intrigued to find that the father, who had a lisp, called his son “son” at every opportunity. It’s good to see a man who faces up to a challenge and doesn’t let a speech impediment restrict his behaviour. On the other hand, I did wonder if they could have chosen a better name – it seems the kid is called Zachary.

And that’s not all. They made a big thing about being vegetarian, even down to asking if the vegan sausages were OK for vegetarians. I know vegans have to check if vegetarian food is OK for them but I’ve never heard an enquiry the other way. I started to harbour suspicions about the vegetarian credentials, and intelligence, of this family.

Then we got onto nuts. Was the breakfast suitable to sufferers of nut allergies. The answer was that the breakfast cereals may have had contact with nuts in the factory.

“Oh, that’s alright, a trace doesn’t matter.”

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t an allergy, an actual allergy rather than a fashion accessory allergy, life threatening and triggered by even a trace of the substance in question? I knew a bloke who was allergic to fish. He kissed his girlfriend after she had eaten fish several hours previously and ended up in hospital. That’s an allergy.

When you interrogate the serving staff about allergens and then say a trace doesn’t matter you are actually proving you don’t have an allergy, just a love of hearing your own voice. (As an aside here, I always try never to irritate anyone who will be alone with my food. I think this is a good policy.)

I’ll finish this subject here, as the next 200 words don’t really add much, apart from a heap of abuse about a woman seeking attention.

I’ll finish the post with my new joints. They were listed as SI joints, I’ve heard of SI Units and CV joints, but never SI joints. Turns out they are sacroiliac joints. I don’t really see the point of them, apart from holding my hips and back in place, which I’m sure could be done without extra joints, but, having read about them, I am now quite concerned. Fortunately, mine seem in good shape at the moment.

That’s the trouble with doctors, the more you see them , the more things get looked at until, eventually, you end up with a new problem. Since finding out I had sacroiliac joints I have had them in my thoughts every day.

Gold Medallion - Richard the Lionheart

Gold Medallion – Richard the Lionheart

 

The gold medallions are part of a series from the Cook Islands. They are 11mm in diameter and weigh half a gram.

When these Kings lived they didn’t know that the Cook Islands existed, but that doesn’t stop the Cook Islands and their relentless drive to make money from the international trade in over-priced numismatic items.

I’m sure these coins are all sold out, but have a look if you want to see the depths to which the coin trade has sunk. We had some, but I’m glad to say we sold them before I started work in the shop.